How can we die yet live?

It’s spring and we’re seeing rebirth from what appeared to be barren branches and fields just weeks ago. In Iowa, the farmers churn silage and/or dead, shorn cornstalks into the earth each fall so that they may decay and fertilize the soil for the next year’s crop. The seed holds both life and death within its cellular memory; from its membranes are its creation from destruction.

It’s organic nanotechnology.

So, too, must we die to old habits and modes of thinking if we wish to evolve and grow as individuals. But how?

“Join death
to your life and you will live
as if there were no drum to march to.

There is no march at all.

You’re done. All will be well for all.” – from All That’s Left, Jack Hirschman

This blogpost is pretty “woo woo” and “out there,” and so my apologies for those of you who are reading Independent Ideas for the first time. I write most of my blogposts in my head either on the treadmill at the gym or as I drive hither and yon throughout my days.

Over the past week, the idea of surrender as liberation has been bouncing around my head and I don’t know where this blogpost is going to end up. So if you’ll bear with me, let’s take a trip down the rabbit hole together.

Paradox is one of my life lessons that I’m supposed to “get” as I navigate my journey. It took me about 37 years to realize that fact, but since then, I’ve been practicing awareness of paradox for a few years, so it has become easier to recognize when I encounter it.

Most of the time, paradox is one of those ‘hmroo?’ concepts – the truth of which is tucked in so deeply with the problem/life lesson we encounter that the solution (or resolution) dangles *just* out of reach of our consciousness.

The really frustrating part is that once the tumblers *do* click and you understand the inherent paradox of whatever specific problem with which you are dealing, it is maddeningly difficult to explain to someone else. It’s usually a lesson that is intensely personal. You just *know.*

How can we die yet live?

In the case of the poem’s excerpt above, how does dying to our life free us?

  • Is it freedom from expectations?
  • Is it freedom from earthly concerns?
  • Is it allowing us to focus on eternal matters?

Most people (including Yours Truly) are more comfortable with clear cut beginnings and ends. For example:

  1. Articulate goal.
  2. Write it down.
  3. Take steps to achieve it.
  4. Achieve stated goal…
  5. and finally (in football parlance), move the chains.
  6. Repeat as necessary.

However: What if linear and nonlinear paths coexist simultaneously? What if the linear model of goal achieving outlined in the previous list is absolutely correct? But what if a random pathway would bring you to the same end? Is one more “real” or “correct” than the other? What if your path is at once independent and interrelated to every other path? What if all of the above are true? Would it matter?

As I see it, our responsibility to ourselves and each other is to tend our own garden. Set our own goals. Discern our own truths and live them out as best we can with what we have at any given time, reaching out to others who are able and willing to help us grow. In so doing, the betterment of the Whole is advanced.

When we focus on our own skills, talents and the expression of same, we find that our lives are like an instrument playing within a symphony of humanity. Each life has a different tone, frequency, vibrancy and melody and yet each blends with the others when lived in an authentic manner.

There is no march at all.

This sentiment is inherently annoying, because it is the opposite of all we hold dear: there must be some meaning to this, right? Because if there’s not, then why are we here?

It doesn’t matter.

Perhaps the scale is so big that it’s beyond our comprehension. Perhaps the realization of our ability and capacity to opt out of expectations is, in and of itself, the goal. Perhaps that’s an enlightenment of sorts.

I *do* know that embracing the paradox of surrender is liberating. There is a subtle difference between surrender and “giving up.” Surrender is an acknowledgement that you’ve reached the limits of your comprehension. Giving up is not looking any farther.

Once we surrender, we are open to new horizons; and that’s where our independence lies.

Thanks for sticking with me, and please share your thoughts below.


Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1g or @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive Foundation).


  1. says

    This is deep. It’s like reading a philosophy book. But I kind of get what you’re saying, I think.
    It’s about accepting our limitations gracefully and even excitedly, so that we can move to greater things.
    Thank you for the post.

  2. says

    Thank you for your kind comment, Glori. Sometimes my mind goes inward and posts like this are the result.

    Perhaps accepting your limitations will enable you to grow past them. When we focus on a preconcieved notion, other options reveal themselves when we release our need for there to be only one way.

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